Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Pumpkin Hazelnut Gelato - a Recipe
Ok fine. If autumn won’t come to New York, I’ll bring New York to autumn! I hope, hope that the thunderstorm we had last night means the 80-degree weather is finally over – I so desperately want to pull on a cozy sweater and braise lamb shanks or something. But as summer’s refusal to end this year has shown, nothing is certain.
In the past weeks – the growing mounds of pears and pumpkins at the market ever more a mockery in this heat – I’ve had to find new, cooling ways to enjoy autumn’s flavors. And this gelato has become our gold standard. The fresh sweetness of the pumpkin and the heady fragrance and earthiness of in-season hazelnuts revive us after dinner as we wait for the temperatures to drop so we can slip out for a furtive nighttime walk up and down Manhattan.
I love gelato because it tends to be less sweet than other frozen desserts, which I think helps the flavors of fresh produce and seasonings shine through. Gelato’s often thickened with agents other than eggs – rice is popular, and here the puréed pumpkin lends the egg yolks a hand. And it’s usually served slightly warmer than ice cream. In fact in Italy, gelato is sort of spackled into cones and dishes with a spatula rather than a rounded scoop. I tell you this so you don’t feel quite so guilty if you find yourself munching straight out of the ice cream maker before your gelato has had time to prove in the freezer. Just tell yourself you’re being authentic – it’s not stricty true, but it works for me!
Makes approximately 1 quart
1 2 ½ - 3 lb pumpkin
1 ½ cups hazelnuts
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp kosher salt
5 egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and discard. Place the pumpkin halves, cut side up, in a roasting pan and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour, or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Set aside to cool.
Scoop out the flesh with a spoon and puree in a food processor until smooth. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Put the pumpkin puree into the sieve and let excess water drain off for at least an hour. (You can also cover with plastic wrap and drain in the fridge overnight).
When ready to continue, reheat the oven to 350 F. Put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Stir them and then bake for 5 minutes more. Set aside to cool. Rub them between your hands to remove as many of the skins as possible. Pulse in a food processor until chopped fine.
In a medium saucepan, warm the cream, sugars, ginger, nutmeg, and salt over low heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Do not allow to bubble or boil. Once warm, turn off the heat and stir in the hazelnuts. Cover and let steep for 1 hour.
Pour the cream through a sieve into a medium saucepan and press down on the hazelnuts to extract as much liquid as possible. Warm the flavored cream again over low heat and meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
Once the cream is warm, pour a little into the egg yolk and whisk well. Add a little more at a time, whisking continuously, until the two are combined. Pour back into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat.
Cook, stirring continuously with a heat-proof spatula and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. Once the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, pour through the sieve back into the bowl. Whisk in 1 cup of the drained pumpkin purée until well combined – be careful not to whisk in too much air here.
Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, pressing down the plastic until it just touches the surface of the custard – to avoid letting a skin form - and chill thoroughly in the fridge. Freeze in your ice cream maker, following the manufacturers instructions. Store in an air-tight, freezer-safe container, and let sit out for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.